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Eating others : symbolic and actual anthropophagy in médiéval storytelling

Eating enemies, eating sins

Anthropophagy in the Eracles Italian vulgarization
Pantalea Mazzitello
p. 357-376


The contribution deals with two episodes of cannibalism in the Italian vulgarization of the Estoire d’Eracles (Florence, Laurentian Library, Plut. LXI.45): the barbecue feast of Turkish spies in Bohemond’s campsite; the lynching of Andronikos I Komnenos devoured by Constantinople’s women. Both events are examples of sensational punishment and revenge: in the first episode Crusaders aim to discourage the enemy, in the second one the victims seek to purify themselves from the tyrant’s sins.

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Full text document will be published online on December 2021.

First lines

Of the various types of cannibalism that occurred in the Middle Ages several can be found in the Crusade chronicles. This paper aims to introduce some of the anthropophagic episodes featured in the First Crusade reports. The text instigating this research is a Tuscan vulgarization of the Histoire d’Eracles. The Latin work by William of Tyre – Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum – was written between 1169 and 1184 and was amply translated in Old French at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The original chronicle reported facts dating back from 1095 until the author’s death, whereas the French translation was complemented with events that occurred up until 1291; these continuations are tightly bound to the Chronique d’Ernoul et Bernard le Trésorier, a chronicle of the events of Outremer written by a supporter of the Ibelin family and later reworked. This new text, composed of the translation from William’s Historia and its continuations, is called Eracles. The Frenc...


Bibliographical reference

Pantalea Mazzitello, « Eating enemies, eating sins », Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes, 36 | 2018, 357-376.

Electronic reference

Pantalea Mazzitello, « Eating enemies, eating sins », Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes [Online], 36 | 2018, Online since 01 December 2021, connection on 13 August 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Pantalea Mazzitello

Indiana University

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